The consumption of foreigners in the third quarter will be 53% lower than in 2019, but in the fourth quarter it will be only 15% less
All organizations point out that most of Spain’s growth this year depends on the recovery of tourism. And the numbers aren’t bad: during the summer national tourist spending was higher than expected, although foreign demand suffered due to new variants of the virus and greater travel restrictions in many countries that normally send tourists to Spain. such as Germany and the United Kingdom.
But with the end of summer a new panorama opens. Autumn and winter have historically been the peak season in tourist areas such as the Canary Islands due to the arrival of thousands of Northern, German, Italian and British tourists after September. The Spaniards are returning to their routine and you can no longer count on this income for hotels and restaurants as happened in July and August, so it all depends on the size of foreign arrivals.
In 2019, before the pandemic, 84.5 million tourists arrived in Spain, a record number. These levels are not expected to repeat at least until 2023, but this year will be the beginning of a recovery, with accounts expected at half that size. Forecasts of the Tourism Association Exceltur indicate that the tourism consumption of foreigners in the third quarter decreased by 53.3% from 2019, while already in the fourth quarter it decreased by only 15.5%. Thus, tourism’s GDP will reach 82,000 million euros this year as per its forecast, still 47% lower than around 155,000 in 2019, but much higher than just 53,000 million it closed in 2020.
Even the numbers may be better given the latest news from the UK, which has announced that vaccinated people will no longer need an earlier PCR to enter the country after their holidays. In this way, the cost of travel and bureaucracy will be greatly simplified as of October 4. They will no longer have to take a test before leaving and when they come back, one of the antigens will work, cheaper than PCR.
In addition, they abolished their own traffic light system to classify countries based on their occurrence, with Spain always in amber, only the green list – where our country is – and the red list will remain, which will require a PCR on the exit and two on the way back. This relaxation of measures has been welcomed by the tourism sector, and more so now that British students have a week off in October and families will be able to travel with ease.
Therefore, everything indicates that the expectations of the Ministry of Tourism will be fulfilled to end the year with 50% of the volume of tourists in 2019. In its latest report on the subject, the Bank of Spain concluded that there has been “the largest” dynamic “in recent weeks, indicating“ Negative gap » by about 54%. However, he believes that the evolution of this sector is determined by the epidemic, but also by “how certain structural changes occur in the habits of tourists or business travelers”, due to the expansion of the introduction of remote work.
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Pay domestic order
In the same sense, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) itself, when asked by this newspaper, notes that it recognizes that “there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the recovery of foreign tourism in 2021”. But he calculates that the arrival and spending of visitors to Spain in July was 45% compared to 2019, in line with expectations, and that there will be “some recovery” in the second half of the year, although “the main driver of the economic recovery will remain domestic demand ».
Part of that internal demand comes from Imserso Tours for retirees, which will start in October if something goes wrong. “They will be a clear boost to the sector in a difficult season for them,” explains Jose Angel Montes, analyst at Solunion Spain. However, it is aware that the effect is “limited” in absolute terms and that hotels and agencies are already offering packages targeting the same population.
For this reason, hoteliers will continue to take advantage of ERTE to avoid destroying ‘thousands of jobs’ now that the ‘mirage of the summer season’ is over. From CEHAT they warn of a “very complicated” fall-winter season with establishments that will have to close again due to a lack of tourists. For this reason, the tourism sector will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the extension of ERTE, although from November they will have new conditions and different aids depending on the training.
Proximity trips but increased budget
Spaniards traveled so close to home this summer that millions of them even became tourists in their own communities. After the emergence of the Covid virus, Spaniards traveled an average of 12 kilometers less on their trips, 13.6% less than they did before the pandemic, according to data from the WeekIndustry tourism portal. By communities, it is the Murcians (53 km) and Catalans (56 km) who have chosen closer destinations, while Extremadura (139 km) and Madrid (132 km) are the ones who have traveled farther this summer.
But traveling close to home doesn’t mean spending less. On the contrary. These holidays averaged €242 per person, 11% more than before the pandemic. Additionally, the data indicates that the average stay also increased by 7%, revealing a closer but longer haven.
Data collected by online agency eBooking is even higher, with a cost per Spaniard of €315 for accommodation during these holidays, up 50% from last summer. The vast majority (83%) resided in Spain, and those who decided to travel abroad decided to visit neighboring cities such as Lisbon, Porto and Rome. It is Navarrese who have spent the most on these feasts and Valencians, who have spent the least.
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